Not taking anything away from "The Flintstones" or "The Jetsons" or any of the other great Hanna Barbera cartoons, but "Top Cat" may just be the funniest, hippest, smartest show HB ever put out. From the writing, the backgrounds, setting the show in a real (as opposed to fictional) city--New York--and Gershwin-esq music ques, every episode of "Top Cat" is quality comedy from the first frame to the last. I absolutely loved this show as a kid, and now that I'm an adult I can watch it with a new appreciation for the talent that went into making it.
Seven characters voiced by six great actors (The wonderful Leo de Lyon pulled double duty as the voice of both Brain and Spook), each with a distinct and endearing personality. Arnold Stang is brilliantly cast as Top Cat, bringing a sensitivity and vulnerability to the role of this "hukster." Maurice Gosfield is hilarious as the delightful Benny the Ball, as is Marvin Kapland as Choo-Choo. And Allen Jenkins is perfect as officer Dribble, er, I mean Dibble. Really, the only character who doesn't do much for me is Fancy-Fancy, but the episodes tend to leave him and Spook (whom I do like) a bit more in the background than the other characters.
Combine great characters with great actors and great writing and you get some great comedy. In the first episode, "Hawaii Here We Come," the opening shot of little Benny hula dancing and singing "Aloha Hoyiiiiie!" is just one of the funniest things I've ever seen. And in that same episode they seem to take a swipe at Disney with a line about Davy Crockett and "that song," which Dibble tries to remember but comes up with "Daaaavy Crockett, with the googlie eyes . . . no, that's not it."
This is most definitely a show for all ages. Kids will like the funny cats, and adults will appreciate the more subtle aspects of the humor. On that basis alone I'd recommend this DVD, but wait! There's more!
This DVD package has some great extras. The documentary Back to Hoagy's Alley, hosted by Leo de Lyon (Spook and Brain) is very nice, and I really love the interview with Mr. T.C. himself, Arnold Stang. I have watched one of the commentaries so far, and that's very good as well, and I look forward to watching the other two. Video quality is excellent and holds up even on my 42" plasma. My only complaint (just a nit-pick, really) is that disc 4 is two sided so you have to flip it over. Couldn't they have made it single sided, dual-layered instead? Oh, well, not really important.
In short, if you are a fan of TV animation from the 50s and 60s then you must get this set. It's a shame that T.C. only got 30 episodes (though they were shown for years on Sat. mornings). This show should have gone on much longer. But maybe with this DVD release T.C. will get some new fans and the show will get the broad recognition it deserves.